We're heading into week 4 of the season, and the Eagles will travel to the "Windy City" to face the Chicago Bears. We looked at how the Bears Offense will match up against the Eagles defense. Now let's observe the other side of the coin, Eagles offense, Bears defense.
The Eagles got banged up a little in week 3 against the Steelers, and that could have an impact on how the Eagles attack the Bears' defense. Here are the keys for the Eagles offense. First the Eagles have to protect Donovan McNabb. The backups are going to have to bring there "A" game. Lastly, the tight ends need to establish their presence in the passing game.
Everyone knows that the Eagles are going to throw the football more times than not. So naturally, the offensive line needs to protect the quarterback. This is especially import this week because of McNabb's chest injury. When he returned to last weeks game you could see that his chest was hurting him, and affected his throw. The offensive must maintain the pocket, and keep the Bears from taking shots. Jon Runyan, Max Jean-Gilles, Jamaal Jackson, Todd Herremans, and William Thomas need to keep the pocket in tact for the entire play. If the pocket breaks down, Donovan will take some unnecessary hits as he steps up towards the line of scrimmage, or out of the pocket.
As mentioned before the Eagles will be going into this week's game banged up. Donovan McNabb has not practiced all week because of a chest contusion. Shawn Andrews missed the Steelers game with a lower back injury, and probably won't play against the Bears. Brian Westbrook suffered an ankle sprain, and is listed as day-to-day. L.J. Smith has practiced this week either, because of a lower back injury. And to wrap it up, Tony Hunt suffered a concussion last week. Of the 5 players named, McNabb and Hunt are the only two that are definite for the game on Sunday. This means that some guys are going to have to step up. Correll Buckhalter took over for Westbrook after he left the Steelers game, and he filled in perfectly. Buckhalter racked up 87 all purpose yards (43 rushing, 44 receiving) on his way to scoring the games only touchdown. He will need to do more of the same against the Bears. Lorenzo Booker will need to step up as well. 16 all purpose yards are not enough. Even if Westbrook is able to play (highly unlikely), he will be limited, so Buckhalter and Booker will be vital to moving the ball. Max Jean-Gilles had to fill in for Shawn Andrews last week, and Max did a good job. He will be tested this week, as he will be facing Tommie Harris. Nick Cole could see some action at center, because of a quadriceps injury that is bothering Jamaal Jackson. Brent Celek could be seeing more time this week if L.J. Smith is limited, or out. Although he has not seen many passes come his way this season, Celek needs to make the most of the ones he does see.
Against cover two defenses there are always going to up openings in the seam, and that is a perfect place for our tight ends to sit down in. Brent Celek and L.J. Smith could receive more looks this week against the Bears Tampa 2 defense, and they have to capitalize on them. If Celek and Smith can makes plays, they will keep drives going, and be a huge threat in the red zone. L.J. has taken a lot of heat from the fans for his performance so far, and Celek hasn't gotten that many looks. If Donovan's chest is still sore on game day, he may not be able to make all the deeper throws. That could mean that the ball will be thrown their way.
The Bears use a Tampa 2 defensive scheme, which means that the Eagles will not see a lot of blitzing. In 2008 the Bears are giving up 174.7 yards a game through the air, and 152 on the ground, but that doesn't mean that they are to be underestimated. They are strong defense, and have the ability to control the speed, and flow of the game. The keys for the bears will be to get to the quarterback, Disrupt the timing and route running of the receivers, and create turnovers.
As mentioned before the Eagles won't see constant blitzing, so the Bears defensive line will be primarily responsible for creating most of the pressure on McNabb. Not to oversimplify things, but the Bears will probably test the abilities of Max Jean-Gilles, Jamaal Jackson, and Nick Cole based on injury and experience. The Bears' front four will be attacking the Eagles' offensive line on every play. If they can get to McNabb they will force either to step up and take excessive hits, or make errant throws that the Bears linebackers and secondary will capitalize on.
The second for the Bears will be to disrupt the route running, and timing of the Eagles Receivers. Probably the best way for them to do is to be physical. The Bears secondary are made up of solid tacklers that have good size. By bumping the receivers off their routes the Bears will disrupt the timing between McNabb and his receivers. If the Eagles receivers are able to get into their routes they can expect some big hits as they try to make the catch.
The final key for the Bears is to create turnovers. If the Bears' front four put pressure on McNabb, and he doesn't get enough on the ball, Hunter Hillenmeyer and Lance Briggs will be stepping right into the passing lane to pick it off. While Hillenmeyer and Briggs are covering the hash marks to the sidelines, Brian Urlacher will be covering everything in between. They are big, and fast. They will step into passing lanes to make the pick, or level big hits, and force fumbles. All the while they still have help at the next level. Like the linebackers the Bears' secondary are waiting to make the tackle, force a fumble, or make the interception. They will always have help over the top, which gives them the ability to take chances and make plays. The Bears offense relies heavily on the defense to give them the best possible field position.
The Bears defense has fallen on tough times over the past two years, but they are defense that are still strong and reliable. They cannot be underestimated, because they can, and will capitalize on mistakes. The Eagles have some injuries, and need to have some players make a big statement on Sunday. I think that the Eagles will be able to capitalize on the Bears' zone coverage, but they aren't going to put up offensive numbers like they did in the first 2 games. I feel confident we'll come out on top though.